This just in from the Casper StarTribune.net — 70 to 80 shelter dogs are due to be euthanized due to an outbreak of Canine Influenza at the shelter.
Four dogs at the shelter have died, and the virus was confirmed Friday in four of five samples submitted for testing, the officials said Monday night at a City Council meeting.
Misty Courtney, a shelter employee for about four months, opposed the decision. She said that after learning about it Sunday, she stopped by the dogs’ kennels. “I almost lost it,” she said. “I wanted to take them and escape.”
But shelter officials said there was no way to test for the virus quickly and thus no way to tell which dogs were infected. Shelter director Alan Cohen said that unless all the dogs were killed, he couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t re-infect themselves and other animals.
“If I do not euthanize these animals, how can I let them loose knowing they might spread it to the community? If we don’t stop these 70, they may serve as vectors to spread it to the entire community,” he said.
At this point, 42 dogs have been put down according to another article in the Billings Gazette.
Despite an outcry from pet lovers, the Cheyenne Animal Shelter has euthanized 42 dogs in an attempt to eradicate an outbreak of canine influenza.
Local veterinarians said euthanizing the dogs would prevent spreading dog flu outside the shelter. But other people said a quarantine would have kept the virus in check.
The disease resembles a common condition known as “kennel cough” but can cause fatal pneumonia. Dog flu is fatal in up to 10 percent of cases, although many infected dogs never show symptoms.
Shelter director Alan Cohen, whose first day on the job was Monday, said Wednesday was “probably by far” the worst day of his life. “I am not a veterinarian, and I made my decision based on the suggestions and advice of the veterinarians I talked to,” he said.
“The State Veterinarian’s Office is still saying it’s the only responsible thing to do.
“If people want to blame me for the decision, that’s fine. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time and the support of the veterinary community.”
Nineteen other dogs remained alive while the shelter tried to determine its legal status and until influenza tests for them came back late this week or early next week. Cohen said he did not want to euthanize a dog that belonged to someone.
Local dog lovers are protesting the decision to euthanize dogs and are trying to prevent the deaths of the remaining dogs.